Durban — To date, through Operation Shanela, police have recovered and/or confiscated close to 800 firearms, with Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape identified as provinces that reported the most shootings and recovered the most firearms.
That was revealed by SAPS National Commissioner Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola when providing an update on Operation Shanela at Vanderbijlpark SAPS yesterday (Thursday).
Masemola said that through high-density operations, Operation Shanela continued to yield positive results since inception on May 8, 2023.
He said that thus far, it was encouraging to witness the cumulative successes of these weekly high-density, integrated operations, which were intensified from Thursdays to Mondays when most crime is reported at police stations.
He said that they continued to collaborate and appreciated the role played by the SA National Defence Force, National and Provincial Traffic Police, Metro Police, Municipal Traffic, the Department of Home Affairs, SA Revenue Service and other government departments; as well as the Community Policing Forums and community patrollers, and private security.
“Since the update in Klipgat four weeks ago, we are now sitting at 47 848 arrests for various crimes.
“In the last two weeks, 14 909 suspects were arrested for crimes ranging from murder, attempted murder, to rape,” Masemola said.
Speaking on gun violence, Masemola said: “Through Operation Shanela, police have to date recovered and/or confiscated close to 800 firearms.
“This is significant, bearing in mind that the provinces of Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and the Western Cape have been identified as those provinces that have the most reported shootings; and the most recovered firearms are from the same provinces.
“Our focus, therefore, remains on permanently removing illegal firearms which enter the country through porous borders, or are stolen during house robberies, or, are negligently left in vehicles by their legal owners.”
SAPS were expected to head to a separate facility where more than 15 000 firearms would be destroyed.
“Since we took over office in April 2022, a total of 54 517 firearms have been confiscated and destroyed. All firearms that are being destroyed this afternoon, were subjected to ballistics testing to determine if they were utilised in any commission of a crime. We are confirming that all firearms have been cleared,” Masemola said.
He said that the firearm destruction process was a measure that had been put in place by the management of the SAPS to ensure that firearms that were confiscated and recovered during operations, were permanently removed from society.
“With this said, we call upon legal firearm owners to be extra vigilant and take extra measures to safeguard their firearms, to avoid them landing up in the wrong hands,” Masemola said.
He also reminded firearm owners to always ensure compliance with the relevant provisions of the Firearms Control Act of 2000.
“We continue to pull everyone within the borders of this country together, to fight crime by mobilising communities, working with the private sector including private security through our E2 project ((Eyes and Ears, project by Business Against Crime SA), to find these guns and remove them permanently with such firearms destruction activities,” Masemola said.
On Tuesday, KZN Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Sipho Hlomuka, commended SAPS following the arrest of 9 400 suspects during operations in June.
Police in KZN reported that 2 809 were arrested over contact crimes, which included 189 for murder, 142 for attempted murder, 226 for robberies, 187 for rape and 1 864 for assaults.
Police also revealed that 1 387 suspects were arrested for drug-related crimes, 472 for driving under the influence of alcohol and a further 118 were apprehended for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
Police said that during these intelligence-driven operations, police seized drugs weighing 1 630kg. It included cannabis, cocaine, crystal meth, heroin, Mandrax and ecstasy.
Efforts to reduce the number of illegal firearms in the province yielded positive results as police managed to recover 268 firearms – 242 of which were pistols – and 2 731 rounds of ammunition.
Hlomuka said: “This high-density crime combating operation is yielding the desired results. Our law enforcement agencies are equal to the task. We applaud their stellar work, as for the provincial government, crime eradication remains one of the apex priorities of this administration.
“These operations are an indication that we are committed to creating safer living conditions for all our people.”
The MEC also reiterated his call for an integrated approach to combat and prevent crime.
“The involvement of voluntary community crime fighting structures is vital in our noble casuse of fighting the scourge of crime. We call upon all community members to assist law enforcement by providing credible intelligence information to ensure that all criminal elements are nipped in the bud,” Hlomuka added.
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